Page 02

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factory man

My grandfather worked all his life, at the allied factory site
Making disc brakes for a GM car, Lord he’d come home late at night
And it’s a damned old shame, was all I said, the day he got the news
They’re closing down the allied plant and I’m singing on the blues

So have mercy on me, dear Uncle Sam,
I’m just trying to do the very best I can
I make an honest wage, working with my hands
So have mercy on me, ‘cause I’m a factory man

They told our union local 383 there was no way to compete
And we can make some cheaper breaks if we build ‘em overseas
I’ve got two young babies and a wife to feed, and I’m livin’ day to day
‘Cause folks in China will work my job for barely half the pay

John Henry beat that old machine when they laid that hammer down
But there’s no more hammer swingers and no jobs left in this town
The market gained a couple points, but the trading sure was light
And there’s a few less in this town of ours sleeping good tonight

This is a true story. However, the place made brakes for Ford trucks, and not GM cars (flows better in song). This is the story of the foundry in St. Joseph, MI where my Grandpa retired from. He worked there as a tool and die maker. Three generations of men in my family had worked there including my Grandpa, my Great-Grandfather on my Mom’s side, and my Dad. When I wrote the song, the story pertained to this place in particular, but it came to have a broader appeal as similar manufacturing operations in the rust belt closed, or outsourced jobs to save in labor costs. Later, the entire U.S. auto industry fell into crisis.

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